If you are looking for sea life, shelling, and amazing sunsets while in Sanibel Island, Florida look no more! We found the best excursions in Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel, and Captiva Islands and we want to share our experience with you.
Adventures in Paradise is a family-owned cruise and tour operator in the Fort Myers Beach area and have been in business for over 30 years. They offer a variety of daily experiences that your whole family can choose from. Whether you want to go shelling, spend your afternoon with the local year-round dolphins or go fishing, Adventures in Paradise has an outing for you.
We were lucky enough to join Adventures in Paradise on the Sea Life Encounter Excursion and it was so much fun!
We were accompanied by Captain Paul and 1st Mate Megan, who is a Marine Biologist; they both have such a wealth of knowledge of the vegetation and wildlife of the area, which added so much to the trip. Our boat cruise started as we wandered through the Mangrove trees, which are highly protected and native to the area, of the Inter-Coastal Waterway. Before we even entered open water we were greeted by 3 local Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins feeding. One of them was a baby! We were taught a few tricks on how to get them to play with you and they did.
After spending some time interacting with the dolphins we were off to the inhabited Picnic Island to explore and find more sea life. Once we got to the island we hopped off the boat and were given scooping nets to go into the water and discover. The trick to finding our treasures was to go to the grasses that lay 20 feet or so offshore and scoop from the sand bottom seafloor. There was a seawater bin located on the beach, as well as Megan was in the water collecting what we could find so she could show and explain to us what we found.
After about 45 minutes we all gathered on the beach to get a closer look at all the wonderful creatures we found. There were sea slugs, crabs, shrimp, and jellyfish. We also found 2 seahorses!!! It was really neat as we were able to touch and see up close all of the animals. After the close encounter with these beautiful sea creatures, they were safely released back into the water.
Probably one of the coolest things and I can’t guarantee it would happen again, but as we were all loading back on to the boat there was a fisherman on the beach, and he caught something really outstanding. It caught the attention of my husband and our friend as he was struggling to reel it in. Low and behold, it was a Sawfish. Now you may ask why this is cool. Well, let me tell you! Sawfish is a critically endangered species and rare to see. They are known as carpenter sharks, although they are part of the rays’ family. The one we saw looked to be a juvenile as it was not the length of an adult, which can reach up to 18 feet in length and weigh over 700 lbs. Thankfully, Megan, who had also never seen one before, was experienced enough to get the fish unhooked and back in the water safely and quickly.
Once the excitement was over we moved on and did some net catching and releasing. This was really fun as in the deeper waters there was an opportunity to catch fish that are not commonly found in shallow water. Megan cast the net and drew it in. Once the net was on the boat, the kids were able to assist in getting the fish from the net to the tank, which they loved being helpers. It was fun to see them race to get the fish into the water. We found so many, but my favorite find was a Puffer Fish! After he calmed down, were we able to pet him on the back!
I want to point out that the Safety of the guests, as well as the Sea Life, was a top priority for the Adventures in Paradise team. The boat was at less than 50% capacity and they were wearing masks. Guests were able to wear their masks too if that made them feel more comfortable. We all enjoyed our experience at a safe distance from those that were not part of our immediate group. All of the animals were handled with care, returned to the water, and were not harmed in any way.
If you are ever in Southwest Florida and are looking for a great day, I highly recommend checking out Adventures in Paradise and all of the tours that they offer.